Remnants of reductionism

Foundations of Chemistry 1 (1):17-41 (1999)
Abstract
Central to many issues surrounding reduction in science is the relation between a physical system and its components. In this article we examine how thermodynamic theory relates properties of whole systems to properties of their components. In order to keep the analysis general, we focus our study on universal properties like volume, heat capacity, energy and temperature. In the cases examined we find that scientific explanation requires appeal to properties of components that are spatially as extensive as the whole system. We discuss some implications of our study for the purported paradigmatic reductions of heat and temperature to molecular motion. We conclude that while macro systems reduce ontologically to micro components, epistemologically the reduction of theoretical concepts in general fails.
Keywords Philosophy   Chemistry/Food Science, general   Physical Chemistry   Philosophy of Science   History
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1009984310105
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Nagel's Analysis of Reduction: Comments in Defense as Well as Critique.Paul Needham - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (2):163-170.
Nagel's Analysis of Reduction: Comments in Defense as Well as Critique.Paul Needham - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (2):163-170.

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